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Colombo Port City caught in political waves

Colombo Port City caught in political waves

Despite a continuing storm and conflicting reports on the huge Chinese-funded Colombo Port City project, work on it was proceeding apace behind barbed wire barricades yesterday. Govt. spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said on Friday the Cabinet had decided to go ahead with this controversial project, but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said [...]

Worldwide hunt for assets of UPFA leadersWeliamuna joins Mangala to meet World Bank’s StAR unit to recover plundered wealth

Measures to trace the foreign assets of top politicians and officials of the former UPFA Government will get underway in Washington DC next week. For this purpose, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and eminent lawyer J.C. Weliamuna, a former local head of Transparency International, will meet officials of the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Unit (StAR) in [...]

2,100 files missing: Ravi goes to CID

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has complained to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that more than 2,100 important files in his Ministry have gone missing. These files, he told the Sunday Times, included ones which contain information on shady and questionable deals. “We know the officials who have to be responsible for these files. So they [...]

Govt. to extend controversial detention law by 2 more years

The new Government is to extend for two years a controversial law which allows the Police to detain for upto 48 hours persons arrested without a warrant on charges of murder and other serious crimes. The Minister of Justice has issued a Gazette notification to extend for another two years the operation of the provisions of [...]

Bypassing Cabinet, Rajapaksa paid Rs. 1.39b to US firms and middleman

The Presidential Secretariat, under the previous UPFA Government, paid a staggering Rs. 1.39 billion to a middleman and two public relations agencies in the United States to promote Sri Lanka and lobby on behalf of the former Government. Though the Cabinet of Ministers did not approve the payment, the Presidential Secretariat had directed in writing that [...]

New Govt.’s mini-budget passed with a two-thirds majority

The interim budget – seen as the first test for the new national unity government — was passed with a two-thirds majority in Parliament yesterday with 164 members voting for and one against. Members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which has pledged to support the 100-day programme of the new government voted for the [...]

Shelton Wanasinghe passes away

Veteran civil servant Shelton Wanasinghe, who was the founder of the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA), passed away yesterday. He was 89. Mr. Wanasinghe joined the Civil Service in 1946. In addition to being the founder and director of SLIDA, he also served on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia [...]

Police dig into illicit treasure hunt within luxury meditation centre

Investigators are probing an alleged illegal dig of archeological artefacts and other activities inside the luxury meditation centre located in Imbulgoda, Kadawatha, a senior police official said yesterday. He said the controversial meditation centre built at a cost of some Rs. 100 million was used by top VIPs of the former administration, where even security for [...]

Amended Mansion Tax targets bigger, pricier properties

The annual Mansion Tax proposed by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayaka in his Interim Budget was amended yesterday, before the Appropriation Bill was approved by Parliament, placing further limitations on those liable to the tax. The Rs. 1 million annual Mansion Tax was to be levied from owners of houses valued at Rs. 100 million or [...]

Two more elephants rescued, one badly injured

Two more elephants rescued, one badly injured

An injured elephant was rescued by Wildlife Department officials from the residence of a politico, as raids to free elephants being held without proper authorisation continued this week. The four-year-old calf was found at the Horana residence of UNP Western Provincial Councillor Kithsiri Kahatapitiya, and later taken to the National Wildlife Training Centre (NWLTC) at [...]

Roundworm kills Kalpitiya’s kilo-pera as planters watch helplessly

Planters of guava (the larger variety called kilo-pera) in the Kalpitiya peninsula complain that a roundworm disease has destroyed nearly 750 acres of plantation. In Kalpitiya, over 500 planters own plantations approximately 1,000 acres in extent, and until recently, the plantations were a lucrative source of income for families in Pallivasalthurai, Thalawila, Eththale, Alankuda, Poolachchanai, [...]

‘Monkeying’with the monkeys

‘Monkeying’with the monkeys

Monkeysare threatening to become a nuisance to tourists visiting the Sacred City of Anuradhapura. Tourists, including those of foreign origin are partly responsible for this situation as they are in the habit of feeding the animals and this has led to large numbers of them congregating at the sites. “There have been instances where the [...]

Govt. set to revive US$ 6 billion worth of shelved BoI projects

The Government will revive 235 foreign and local projects with a potential investment of US$ 6 billion that the Board of Investment (BOI) put on hold during the past few years, Investment Promotion State Minister Eran Wickremaratne told the Sunday Times. Mr. Wickremaratne said that some of the projects had been put on hold for [...]

Ceremonial sitting of SC to welcome new Chief Justice K. Sripavan

A ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court will be held tomorrow at 10 am at the Superior Courts complex at Hultsdorf, to welcome new Chief Justice Kanagasabapathy Sripavan and newly appointed Judge Justice Anil Gooneratne.

Govt. invites UNHRC Chief to SL

The Government has extended an invitation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to visit Colombo. It was extended by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and channelled through the office of Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN in Geneva. The invitation comes ahead of the 28th sessions of the [...]

Illegal route permits to be cancelled

All bus route permits illegally issued to operate services on the expressways will be cancelled during the coming week, Transport Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara told the Sunday Times. He said that the previous government had issued permits without tenders identifying them as ‘President Permits’, ‘VIP permits’, ‘Police permits’ and ‘RDA permits’. He said officials are [...]

TNA and SLMC in power struggle in East

TNA and SLMC in power struggle in East

Following the appointment of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Councillor Hafeez Nazeer Ahamed as the new Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) the party has decided to suspend a councillor on the grounds of his misconduct, a senior party leader said. “He has been removed from the party membership by the leader with [...]

114 MPs sign ‘No Confidence’ motion against Minister John Amaratunga

A ‘No Confidence’ motion signed by 114 MPs, a majority of the House, against Minister of Public Order, Disaster Management and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga, was yesterday handed over to the Secretary General of Parliament Dammika Dasanayaka. Leader of the Opposition, Nimal Siripala De Silva said that the majority of MPs have lost confidence in [...]

Chinese private sector sought equity stake in coal power plant

The Chinese private sector had sought an equity stake in the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant in Norochcholai but the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had turned down the proposal, Chinese officials confirmed this week. “What I heard is that some of the Chinese businessmen asked the CEB whether we can get some equity from the power [...]

60-70% reduction in drug prices next month: Minister

The prices of essential medicinal drugs are likely to come down by 60 – 75 percent from next month when the long-delayed bill for the implementation of the National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) comes into operation, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said. Dr. Senaratne told a Cabinet news briefing on Friday the draft bill, delayed for [...]

Indo-Lanka fishing dispute flares again; urgent moves to defuse crisis

Diplomatic contacts between Colombo and New Delhi intensified yesterday after a clash between fishermen of the two countries, some five nautical miles off Point Pedro. The incident had taken place in the Palk Strait where nearly 40 Sri Lankan fishing boats were operating. A fleet of Indian trawlers which were engaged in illegal bottom trawling [...]

Search on for VAT scam kingpin

Efforts are currently being made to arrest Kamil Kuthubdeen, the kingpin behind the multi-billion VAT scam who is said to be residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a senior police official said yesterday. He said Kuthubdeen along with two other Sri Lankans had been involved in the scam between November 15, 2002 and August [...]

Govt should enforce price drops, says Marzook

Govt should enforce price drops, says Marzook

Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) chief Rumy Marzook says a gazetted maximum retail price for goods would force traders to lower prices in line with price cuts announced in the budget, saying the CAA was powerless to prevent errant traders refusing to pass on the government price cuts. “We don’t have legal provisions to force traders [...]

China’s Liu: It’s up to Sri Lanka’s Govt. to expose deals

China’s Liu: It’s up to Sri Lanka’s Govt. to expose deals

For the first time since it became Sri Lanka’s key infrastructure supplier, the Chinese Government had a shot at transparency this week — and whacked the ball firmly into Colombo’s court. It was the Sri Lanka Government’s responsibility to be “reachable, accessible” and to provide information to media, to parliament and to the people regarding [...]

Vehicle importers decry steep duties on hybrid cars

The new government’s revenue plan to raise taxes on hybrid cars by more than 60 per cent has come under criticism from car importers and vehicle users, calling for a review of the system. Hybrid cars known to be fuel efficient, economical and environmentally friendly vehicles may be gradually pushed out of the market due [...]

Troop deployment: Govt. to continue the previous Govt.’s practice

A proclamation enabling the deployment of armed forces to maintain law and order will be issued every month, Public Order Minister John Amaratunga said yesterday. He said such deployment would be done only when the necessity arose. Mr. Amaratunga’s remarks came after questions were raised whether the new government would continue with the previous government’s [...]

Murder in the zoo, a classic ‘locked-door’ mystery

Murder in the zoo, a classic ‘locked-door’ mystery

The Dehiwela zoo is looking for replacements for 13 mouse deer reported dead last week as mystery remains over how the animals met their sad end. Zoo Director Anura de Silva has asked the wildlife department to find replacements for the animals. Mr. de Silva said that a zoo-keeper had found all 13 mouse deer [...]

Vehicle stalled on middle of railway track, occupants tried to get out: Eye witness

Vehicle stalled on middle of railway track,  occupants tried to get out: Eye witness

It was a horrendous crash that left four people of the same family dead and two others injured after a speeding express train was involved in a collision with a double cab at an unprotected railway crossing earlier this week, once again prompting a public outcry for safety measures to be implemented at such locations. [...]

Third time lucky? Candidates at odds over Mullaitivu polls

Third time lucky? Candidates at odds over Mullaitivu polls

The Elections Commissioner’s decision to go ahead with two local council polls in the Mullaitivu district after three years of calling for nominations has created great uncertainty among contestants. Some of the political parties who had backed the then-governing United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and later crossed over to the current Government (then the opposition) [...]

‘Let us correct failures and move ahead’

‘Let us correct failures and move ahead’

The 67th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence was celebrated with less pomp and pageantry with President Maithripala Sirisena, in his first Independence Day speech, calling on the people of all communities to work together. The celebrations began at 9 a.m. with President Sirisena hoisting the national flag. at Parliament grounds at Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, amidst [...]

Jumbo find in the legal section of the Wildlife Dept.

Jumbo find in the legal section of the Wildlife Dept.

The elephant registry that went missing some years ago surfaced yesterday but was found to be heavily tampered with, with several pages missing and vital details erased. The registry that had been under lock and key in the legal section of the Wildlife Department was made public to media personnel by Wildlife Deputy Minister Wasantha [...]

Court orders “Wele Suda” be produced at next hearing

Kingpin drug dealer “Wele Suda” was not produced in court due to security risks, on CID advice, State Counsel Thusith Mudalige informed Colombo High Court Judge Devika de Livera-Tennakoon on Thursday. Gampola Vidanage Samantha Kumara alias “Wele Suda”, his wife Nayani Priyadarshini and K. A. Jayanthi Priyadarshini (a relative of the couple) were charged on several [...]

Father of two falls to his death

Colombo City Coroner Ashrof Rumy ordered the Kotahena police to produce statements to the Coroner’s Court on February 16 regarding a death of a father of two who had fallen from the upper floor of a house. The victim -Tuan Alabdeen was an employee of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and a resident at Kotahena Housing [...]

Trade Unionist demands report on FTZ worker’s killing in May 2011

A leading trade unionist yesterday called on the new government to release without further delay, the report compiled by former High Court Judge Mahanama Tillekeratne who probed the killing of young factory hand, Roshen Chanaka on May 31, 2011, during a labour protest. “We have already written to the office of President Maithripala Sirisena in [...]

3 caught with 590kg ganja, 50,000 ganja plants inside forest reserve

Three persons were earlier this week taken into custody in separate raids on ganja (cannabis) plantations located deep inside the Lunugamwehera Forest Reserve, a senior policeman said yesterday. He said that some 590 kg of finished ganja and another 50,000 ganja plants were also seized in the raids conducted by a Special Task Force (STF) [...]

A goldmine of veggies

A goldmine of veggies

Although in the rest of the country vegetable prices are escalating beyond reach, the formerly landmine-ridden soils of the north are giving forth a surprisingly bountiful harvest; giving us hope that thepre-war prosperity of Jaffna is finally being rekindled. Pic by N. Parameshwaran.

SI, wife caught with 100 kg of ganja

A Sub Inspector (SI) and his young wife were last night taken into custody, along with 100 kg of ganja, at a location in Embilipitiya, police said. The couple was travelling in their private vehicle with the ganja stashed neatly in 10 gunny bags, when the detection was made near the clock tower situated in [...]

Two froggy sisters make news

Two froggy sisters make news

The Kandyan Dwarf Toad, dubbed the world’s rarest toad, has become a more select amphibian with the discovery that it shares its genus with only one other species, not two as previously thought. The toad, a member of the Adenomus genus, was discovered and last seen in the 1870s and had been thought to be extinct [...]

Fishing trip ends in disaster

The Negombo police told the Inquirer into Sudden Deaths (Siri Jayantha Wickremaratne) that a 20-year-old man of Dalupotha- was electrocuted while fishing at the Negombo lagoon on Monday. Akalanka Perera a friend of the victim giving evidence said the victim, Lalith Ravishanka Jayawardena, along with four friends had been fishing in the Negombo lagoon. He said [...]

Education, Defence Ministries inquire into protests against Brigadier’s alleged abuse of Principal

Both Education and Defence Ministries have commenced inquiries into two protests held by teachers and a group of parents of the Defence Services College at Kompannaveediya. Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has asked senior officials of the Ministry to conduct an inquiry into the incident in which teaching staff protested on Monday (2) against the [...]

Qualified persons sans political connections should head Education Institutes: FUTA

The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) has urged the Government to appoint persons with suitable academic background, and without political connections, for positions in Educational institutions, to ensure they provide better service to the country. FUTA’s immediate past President, Chandraguptha Thenuwara told Education Times that they had already called upon University Grants Commission (UGC) [...]

Protesting Brigadier’s alleged verbal abuse of Principal

Protesting Brigadier’s alleged verbal abuse of Principal

A protest outside the Defence Services College in Kompannaveediya, demanding an inquiry over the alleged verbal abuse of the Principal by a Brigadier, at the school recently. Pix by Amila Prabodha

MoHE invites views on Leadership Training after it attracts praise

The Ministry of Higher Education is looking for student views, following many inquiries from students over the university entrants’ Leadership programme, with some praising several components of the programme. “There have been some objections to the programme, but it has also been welcomed by many students who found it helped them with skills the school [...]

Education Ministry’s Investigation Unit to be strengthened: AVK

The Education Ministry is to strengthen its Investigation Unit to receive and probe complaints regarding schools, teachers and other Educational issues, Education Minister, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said. He said that, currently, due to shortages within the system, investigations were not handled properly and this was affecting the Education sector. The number of inspection officers in [...]

55 Postgraduate scholarships from India

The Government of India, through the Ministry of Higher Education, invites applications for Postgraduate scholarships from Sri Lanka graduates, to pursue higher studies in a diverse range of subjects other than MBA and MD or Dentistry/Nursing. Of the 55 scholarships on offer, 5 are from the Commonwealth and 50 from the Maulana Azad Scholarship Scheme. [...]

Reforms Section on Higher Education website to encourage public participation

The Higher Education Ministry, under new State Minister Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, has allocated a new Reforms section on the Ministry’s website, to encourage public contributions. Those interested can forward their submissions, not exceeding 600 words, to in any of three languages. “We will also set up a section on the website for the [...]

Undergraduate activists’ deaths an accident or staged?

Undergraduate activists’ deaths an accident or staged?

A little more than two-and-a-half-years have gone since two ill-fated undergraduate activists of the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF), met with a motorbike accident that ended their lives in Imbulgoda, Gampaha. The IUSF declared the two deaths suspicious. Public interest was also raised as there were reasons for suspicion, because they were on their way to [...]

Japan donates over 250 tons tinned fish for North school lunches

Japan donates over 250 tons tinned fish for North school lunches

Under the World Food Program (WFP), the Japanese government has funded the donation of over 250 metric tonnes of tinned fish worth over Rs 205 million, for the school lunch of 160,000 students in the North. A symbolic quantity of the donation was handed over to Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on Feb.2 at the Finance [...]

GCE AL from Aug.4-28, Grade 5 Schol. Exam on Aug.23

This year’s GCE Advanced Level (AL) will be held from Aug. 4 to 28, while the Grade 5 Scholarship exam will be held on Aug.23 (Sunday), the Exams Dept announced. The Scholarship paper will be according to previous papers, with no changes. The Dept also said that the AL exam 2015 timetable will be released [...]

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